You've heard it before. No pain, no gain! If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you! While there is some truth to these statements, most trainers in the fitness industry have taken these expressions way too far. If you're not a big fan of exercise, we have good news for you. Exercise doesn't have to suck! It can actually be a lot of fun, reduce stress, and clear your mind. If you hate exercise because it's too hard, it hurts, or it's not fun, you're simply not exercising correctly.
The latest fitness fads and trends advocate high intensity exercise. Although high intensity exercise certainly has its place in fitness, it isn't right for the VAST majority of exercisers, especially starting out. Let's talk about some current high intensity fitness trends that are giving exercise a bad rep.
1. High Intensity Interval Training
There's actually a lot of academic research that supports the effectiveness of high intensity interval training. The idea is to exercise at or near maximum effort for a short interval (usually 30-90 seconds) followed immediately by a lower intensity interval of a similar duration. You alternate these high and low intensity intervals the entire workout. This allows exercisers to spend more time exercising at a very high intensity during their workout. This sounds great, right?
Well, you pay for it the next day. The problem is most people don't have to train at maximum effort at all, let alone utilize training methods that allow them to train at maximum effort levels for as long as possible. This is especially true for new exercisers. High intensity interval training for new exercisers is like giving a 16 year old, first-time driver a race car. It's unnecessary. High intensity interval training is great for athletes, advanced exercisers, and those who have already achieved a high level of fitness. For everyone else, you're better off doing sustainable, moderate intensity exercise based on doctor recommended guidelines. It's more fun, and you won't be in a world of pain the next day.
2. Athletic Training and Conditioning
A major trend among trainers and coaches in the fitness industry today is to train every day people like athletes. Athletes are in great physical shape and have amazing bodies. Doesn't it make sense to train like them? Well, no. Athletes, especially at the professional level, are genetically gifted. Their bodies are able to cope with high intensity exercise better than most. That's also why football players can withstand frequent hits with forces similar to that of a car accident.
We're not all cut out to be athletes, and we're not all cut out to train like them - and that's ok! Athletic strength and conditioning is great for athletes and advanced exercisers, but new exercisers should focus on building a base level of fitness before moving on to such advanced training methods.
3. "Extreme" Fitness
This trend has been around for a while. Things like P90x and Crossfit are sold to every day people with the promise of "extreme" or fast results. Again, "extreme" exercise may have its place in fitness, but it's certainly not for new or even intermediate exercisers.
Suggesting that new exercisers should do extreme fitness makes about as much sense as putting a child in the X-Games before he or she has learned to ride a bike. They just don't have the necessary skills, and they're sure to get hurt. It's better focus on exercising with really great form and consistency before trying your hand at "Extreme" fitness.
The bottom line: We're told we need to exercise until we can hardly move or breathe in order to see results. This is simply untrue. You're actually far more likely to see results by exercising at a sustainable, moderate intensity, and doing so consistently. This is especially true for new exercisers and those who are overweight. If you train at an overly high intensity, you won't enjoy the workout, you'll be in a lot of pain the next day, and you'll want to quit.
Again, exercise doesn't have to suck. There is a lot of research showing that you can lose weight and greatly improve your health by exercising at a moderate intensity. So beginners especially, exercise within the level of fitness that you have. You'll enjoy the workout and be more likely to continue exercising. You may even find that it's FUN! Once you've found a way to enjoy exercise and make it a habit, you'll live the rest of your life healthier and in better shape.
Not sure where to start? HelloFit can help!